When was the last time you took a close look at your medical practice website?
Websites are meant to be living entities that grow along with your business. A website is not a “set it and forget it” type of investment. Just like fashion, technology changes with the times. What once looked fresh and modern may now look old and outdated, giving your patients the impression that your practice is the same.
Why a website matters to your medical practice
In the online world, your website is a virtual office location and the face of your practice. It acts as the initial “touchpoint” for potential patients. It showcases who you are and what you do. A Facebook page is no substitute for a website (particularly given the current difficulties Facebook users face in terms of privacy and trust).
A well-designed website can:
- Boost your online reputation
- Increase search engine visibility
- Attract new patients
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression
Your website has seven seconds to make an impression and your patients are making snap judgments based on what they see and read. Research Gate reports 94 percent of people are more apt to trust websites that boast good designs. Gaining trust is particularly important for medical practices, and you could lose it in a single glance with an outdated site.
In this post, I will take you through 10 signs to watch for to determine if it’s time to get your website upgraded or redesigned.
Take some time this week to look at your website with fresh eyes and ask yourself the following questions.
1. How does your website stack up against your competitors?
If your competitors’ websites are more streamlined, functional and fresher than yours, they may be drawing in more patients with a stronger online presence. Make a list of their sites and critically evaluate them in terms of look, design, and functionality. Do they include a blog? Helpful checklists? Pre-registration forms patients can fill out to save time before their appointment? An online appointment system? Screenshot the design features you think work well and think about how you might incorporate them into your website. Look also at what your competitor might be missing. Do you have a key differentiator that sets you apart from the competition? Highlight that difference on your website.
2. Can visitors easily find what they are looking for when they visit your site?
When visitors land on your medical practice website, they’re typically looking for something specific. You may be surprised to learn that research has revealed that easy navigation and accessibility are more important to patients than reputability.
Users should be able to use your website intuitively. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and ask yourself how easy it is to find key information on your site. How many clicks does a visitor have to make to get to the information they are looking for?
Think about the information someone is searching for when they visit your site—and make it easy for them to find it. If your site contains a lot of information (as some hospital websites do) consider creating separate landing pages for specific conditions.
Google has changed considerably over the years. The search engine giant constantly updates its algorithms to ensure users are provided with the best possible results. Each and every update that Google has made has been geared towards providing more user-focused and user-friendly results – Search Engine Watch
Here are some details your patients are likely looking for on your website.
- A location map. If there is a link to Google Maps, be sure it’s working. This section is one of the most used aspects of any website.
- The services you provide — list any specialties here
- A list of doctors and nurse practitioners
- The insurance plans you accept
- Opening hours, plus emergency/after-hours contact details
Optional: Consider adding software which facilitates online scheduling of appointments.
3. Does your medical website communicate value?
Is your website nothing more than a glorified brochure? To attract patients to your website, you should be prepared to add more value in the form of information. Identify the most frequently asked questions in your practice and create blogs, videos, and FAQs for your website to answer those questions.
4. How well is your website performing?
The most common mistake I encounter when I work with clients, is they have no idea if their website is even attracting any visitors. Unless you regularly track your website performance, you will have no idea whether it’s producing results or not.
Use a tool like Google Analytics to monitor your site’s performance. Has it declined over time? Are there fewer people coming to your site? Do they stick around or “bounce” off your site too quickly? Bounce rate is a contributor to your site’s search rankings, and it refers to the amount of time someone is on your site before “bouncing” off to another site. If you have a lot of people who look and quickly click away, it tells search engines you don’t have useful information on your site.
In order to increase conversions, you’ll need to have a clear and visible call to action (CTA) on your website.
5. Is your website design mobile responsive?
Mobile first-indexing is now fully underway and there’s no excuse for having a website that is not optimized for use across all platforms in 2018. Most people aren’t looking at your website on a desktop or laptop anymore. They are looking at it on a phone or tablet. It is projected that by 2020 there will be 2.87 billion smartphone users.
Recent studies show 52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones, ranging from information around a specific medical procedure to diet and nutrition best practices.
Having a mobile-responsive site (ie one that automatically changes its layout and placements of certain menus and buttons automatically) is important because firstly, over half of patients search online for health information on their smartphone, and secondly, Google now gives ranking priority to those sites that are mobile friendly. In fact, Google has stated that it will penalize websites that aren’t mobile-responsive, so if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’ll likely lose out significantly in the organic search rankings. To check if your site’s design is responsive, enter its URL into this Google tool.
Check how your website looks on a mobile device. If you need a magnifying glass to read it then your website is most likely not mobile responsive. You may have heard the term “mobile-friendly site” and be wondering if its the same thing. A mobile-friendly site is one where code is created that allows your website to scale to a smaller size. Mobile responsive sites, in contrast, “respond” to the size of device you are using, adjusting the website accordingly. Mobile responsive sites are greatly preferred over sites that are simply mobile-friendly.
Below are some tips from Search Engine Watch to ensure your website is mobile compatible:
- Use a responsive website design that adapts to mobile devices or create a mobile version of your website that is properly redirected for mobile users.
- Use Google Search Console to add and verify the mobile version of your website.
- Make sure that all the content formats used on your mobile site can be crawled and indexed (check using the txt testing tool ).
- Ensure that content is consistent across your mobile site and desktop site.
- Test your page speed using PageSpeed Insights. If your page is slow, use an auditing tool to find and fix uncompressed content, page errors, and other elements slowing your website down.
6. Is your medical website optimized for search engines?
Eight-in-ten online health seekers say they began at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. If you want more people to find you online, you need to optimize your website through good search engine optimization practices.
SEO (the ability to optimize your site for search engines), is a detailed and sometimes confusing process, and you may want to hire an SEO expert to do it for you. If you don’t want to hire someone, there are search engine optimization tools available to help you do your own SEO — and many of them are free. I’ve put together this list of the best free SEO tools out there to help you instantly improve your online marketing.
A Note on SEO and Redesigning Your Website
One of the biggest misconceptions among website owners is that SEO only needs to be done once. Numerous fractions are altered during redesign including code and pages. If they are not properly handled, it can negatively impact the website’s SEO and affect the long-term growth of the site. To find how to redesign your website without affecting SEO, read this guide.
7. Does your website take time to load content and images?
How fast your website loads is critical – a good site will load in 2 seconds. Alarmingly, research shows that a single second delay in site load time can reduce your conversions by 7 percent. If your site is taking longer than that, consider that around 40% of people will leave a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds.
The faster your site, the better. Google announced back in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches too. Check your site speed: Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool gives you an overview of what aspects need improvement to boost the speed of a particular page.
Insider Tip! Optimize your images for faster loading. A lot of websites have images that are relatively large, which take a lot of time to load. Resizing your images can speed up the loading time.
Recommended Reading: Four of the Best Tools to Increase Website Speed
8. Does your site still use Flash?
There was a time when Flash was a key element of every new website, but nowadays Flash is seen an embarrassing relic of the past. It is no longer a matter of IF browsers will stop supporting Flash in the future, it is now a matter of WHEN they will do so, which means you need to take steps now if you want your site to be usable for the widest range of people in the future.
9. Have you included relevant imagery on your site?
High-resolution images are an important component of any website and require care and attention to make the best impression. Including photos of your the interior and exterior of your building, your logo, and your employees creates a welcoming and professional impression on prospective patients Patients want a relationship with the people who will be caring for them.
If you are already using images, are they relevant to what you do? Or are you relying too heavily on generic stock images you can find in many other places on the web? These days there’s no excuse for using boring stock images. In this article, you’ll learn about my best recommendations for sourcing images you can use for free to enhance your medical marketing.
Insider Tip! Don’t forget to add relevant tags to your images. (i.e. don’t upload images as e.g. img_1234). Image tags provide details when the images do not load, ensuring the user receives a similar UX irrespective of whether there is a picture or not.
10. Have you incorporated social media?
Not only are patients seeking health information online, they are also using social media to research health information. Ask yourself if it’s easy for visitors to share your content on social media? Have you included prominent social sharing buttons? Your average reader might never share your content unless you make it seamlessly easy to do so.
To Wrap Up
Your website is pivotal to your digital marketing strategy. And with more patients than ever searching online for you, it’s imperative that your website is optimized for them to find you. It takes time and resources to optimize your site to deliver the best experience possible, but if you are serious about how your business performs, you need to get serious about the performance of your website too.
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